LA Episcopal leaders nominate 2 openly gay, lesbian priests as bishops

By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
1:10 PM PDT, August 2, 2009

Episcopal Church leaders in Los Angeles today nominated an openly gay priest and an openly lesbian priest as bishops, becoming one of the first dioceses in the national church to test a controversial new policy that lifted a de facto ban on gays and lesbians in the ordained hierarchy.

The nominations of the Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco and the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool of a Baltimore-based diocese are likely to further inflame theological conservatives in the U.S. church and their global partners in the Anglican Communion, who have repeatedly warned about the repercussions of such action.


The two are among six nominees who will face election for two assistant bishop posts at the diocese's annual December convention in Riverside.

The Diocese of Los Angeles, which represents 70,000 Episcopalians in six counties, is widely regarded as one of the most liberal in the U.S. church of 2.1 million members. Its bishop, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, is an outspoken advocate of gays rights in the church.

"I affirm each and every one of these candidates and am pleased at the wide diversity they offer this diocese," Bruno said in a statement.

Dozens of traditionalist churches and four dioceses, including one in Central California, broke away last year over their opposition to the 2003 consecration of partnered gay bishop in New Hampshire.

U.S. church leaders had promised to exercise restraint before consecrating additional gay bishops in the aftermath of that contentious move. But they reversed course at their convention in Anaheim last month, voting overwhelmingly to open "any ordained ministry" to gays and lesbians. They also agreed to consider rites of blessing for same-sex couples.

In addition to Kirkley and Glasspool, the other nominees are: the Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce of St. Clement's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente; the Rev. Zelda M. Kennedy of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena; the Rev. Irineo Martir Vasquez of St. George's Episcopal Church in Hawthorne; and the Rev. Silvestre E. Romero of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in San Jose.

The action in Los Angeles followed a similar decision Saturday by leaders in the Diocese of Minnesota, who nominated a partnered lesbian as bishop. The Rev. Bonnie Perry is rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago and an adjunct professor at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. Her longtime partner is a priest in the church.